Todd Schuett, President
Creative Technology Corporation
Video can distinguish your company from the competition. In today's global economy, video can help you tell your story, your way.
When my company introduced high speed CNC milling controls in 1993, we quickly learned that it was hard to sell "high speed" with pictures and brochures. Video provided a solution that let us show the speed, compare performance side-by-side, and show hours of work, or rare and difficult setups on-demand. Video helps usdifferentiate ourselves.
Video can help you stand out in a crowd, not only if you offer a faster product, but in many ways. If personal service is your trademark, introduce some of your people to your audience and show them. If you have an innovative process, show it and help your audience understand that you offer exactly what they need. If you find that you always get the order if you can just get your prospect to visit your facility, don't wait — take your facility to them! Video can do things for you that no other medium can.
So how can you take video from concept to reality to charge up your marketing? You don't need a big Hollywood production to get people's attention.
Start with Solid Marketing
Perhaps we should first describe what not to do. These days our cell phones can take some impressive video and we can place it on YouTube, Vimeo, or other online providers in an instant. It's easy, but this may not serve you as well as you'd hope. Solid marketing requires more.
While not necessarily an instant thing, video can be easier than you might think. A good video starts with a good plan. What do you want to tell people that might need your company's product or service? As a business owner or representative, chances are you already know that intuitively, but have you really laid out a plan of what you would tell each customer and prospect given the opportunity? Actually conspiring and planning your "perfect" two or three minute sales presentation is the most important step tocreating a good video.
"Three minutes" you ask? "That's way too little time to tell all we need to share about our amazing company!" I'd quickly answer no it isn't. Telling your story quickly and to the point is a really key concept to a good video today. Let your story get dull for a second and your viewers may wander. The idea isn't just to make a video, but to make it interesting and informative enough, and brief enough, that every viewer watches from start to finish and allows you to tell your whole story.
Shape Your Message
Creating a succinct message may seem like a big challenge, but it's a concept of marketing that is pivotal to your success. Marketing isn't like a sales visit where you might have a captive audience for 15 minutes or more. Marketing is an opportunity to sell yourself, but it differs from sales in that it is on-demand; your client reads or watches when he wants, and he can cut you off by turning the page or going to another video or web site just as quickly as he loses interest. Understanding this and keeping your message interesting and to the point is really fundamental to your success. So really, what do we want to tell our prospective customer? Maybe the best place to start planning your video is actually one of your customers. Find out what they like about your company and why they deal with you. Don't just ask one — different clients may deal with you for a variety of reasons. Try to learn all you can to refine your message.
Learning more about your company from your customers can be a revelation, too. You may be surprised to know that one client doesn’t know some of your offerings that others take for granted. This makes another important point — make your message universally appealing to everyone. Your best and most important prospects may already be your best customers. This doesn’t mean you should stop marketing to them, but rather, we mean that if they’re already dealing with you, it’s important to continually reinforce that business and try to build from it.
So ideally, we won’t just direct our video marketing at new prospects, but potentially to our existing ones too. I’d quickly go beyond that and simply assert that I’d like everyone to watch my video. I want it to be informative and interesting enough to anyone even casually associated with or potentially associated with my company that they will watch it and learn more about us.
One last thing before we figure out our story. Remember that video is a multi-media experience. That means that we have more than one channel of communication with our viewer. The moving picture isn’t the only opportunity we have to communicate. We also have sound. We can combine images. We can move around in time and skip boring parts of a process to show the beginning and end. We can combine media and talk while visually seeing other processes onscreen. We can even create a mood with background music. Combining our media opportunities is part of the craft that helps convey more information in less time.
Let’s get to the actual shaping of our message. Here are a few suggestions for potential content:
- Facilities tour
- Introduce key people
- Success stories
- Legacy, history of company
- Industry participation
- Share details of a unique process
Prioritize What’s Important to You
You don’t need to tell your whole story. Tell enough to make your prospect interested to open the door for a salesperson. Don’t lose sight of the limitation that a video will be consistent, for better or for worse. Your video can’t tell a different story for each prospect, yet at some point, they need info on how you can specifically help them. That’s where your salesperson comes in. If your marketing video did its job right, the door is opened for the salesperson and the road to success for them is smoother.
Figure Out How to Tell Your Story
Once your topics are prioritized, it’s probably time to move on and figure out how we will tell our story. Do you want to go on-screen and tell the story yourself? Do you want anyone to go onscreen or to be anonymous? Do you want to tell your story with your own voice or do you want a professional narrator? Professional narration can be a great option. Words can have more meaning when spoken with strong inflections. Professional voice talent understands how to enunciate for maximum impact. On the other hand, professional voiceover may sacrifice an opportunity to personalize your company. Narration by you or key staff can introduce your company in a way that makes you real, helping prospects see you as a company of people, not just a company. Each option has its advantages, so choose what will work best for you.
Now Decide What to Show
That may not be the same as what our message is. Much like the evening news starts with a newscaster speaking to tell a story, the message is stronger when imagery is shown supporting the story, even while the newsperson is speaking. Imagine your video talking about your stunning customer service. Rather than just focusing on the person speaking, the video could be more interesting if it quickly showed clips of someone on phone support, someone in the factory or warehouse repairing product or pulling a customer order, shipping product, and perhaps even showing the truck leaving the building with finished product loaded. A quick glimpse of a next-day air sticker can infer fast service without ever saying those words in the script. Each clip might be just 5 seconds or so to reinforce the concept of customer support. Through multimedia, we have opportunities to tell a lot of information in a little time.
If your company’s product is custom and technical, you may want to assert technical capability and superiority in your video. Here we can show product in development, from design and engineering, through manufacturing, showing machines and machining processes, precision inspection, quality reports and more. Showing the end-product can help more people relate to what you do and understand how your company impacts their life. Plastic injection moldmaking might provide a great example here. A mold is your product, but a plastic part is the end-product. Showing the mold is interesting for an engineer or a moldmaker, but also showing the final part can help you connect with more people involved in the business transaction — the secretary, purchasing agent, buyer, or bookkeeper, for example. Don’t lose sight of the fact that even if your business is moldmaking, it relies on many people with different responsibilities. Hopefully every contact you have with each of them will make them glad they deal with you. Your video should always target everyone.
Not all videos are created equally. Years ago, I’d often tell people that the best feature of our CNC control was that it was a PC, making it simple to understand. I’d then quickly assert that its worst feature was also that it was a PC, so everyone thought they were an expert, potentially creating problems in the control. So it goes with video. Today, you can buy a good camcorder for $1,000 or less, and anyone can shoot a video as we see every day on YouTube. Will a quick home video serve your company well for marketing? Probably not. But maybe you know some friend’s 18-year-old son who’s made a video or two. Will that do the job? Only you can decide, but probably not.
Professional with Industry Experience Can Help Differentiate You from Competition
Much like you’re a professional at what you do, professional video producers are good at what they do. The experienced ones have seen the best and the worst of what can be done, and more experience helps them tell your message more effectively. Professionals use camera equipment that costs tens of thousands of dollars. Often the lighting equipment is even more expensive. Quality audio capture is specialized too, requiring still more equipment. Like anything today, the gap is narrowing on professional vs. amateur, but there’s still a big difference.
You might think that only you can tell your story because you’re the only one who knows it; wrong! Outside input can be very helpful to cull out the important content from the useless or negative content. A professional with industry experience can help differentiate you from your competition, probably better than you yourself can.
Now we’ve come full-circle, back to the beginning of this story, yet also to the conclusion of this story. Marketing is about differentiating yourself. Video can do that, and a professional can help.